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Smart as a Turtle

May 12, 2017 by  
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Good ole sex therapist Dr. Ruth is still at it at age 88 … Wow! Her latest advice is a good one too. I just heard her on the radio talking about how important it is to take some risks if you want to have a better more fulfilling and financially more profitable life.

Dr. Ruth collects little turtle figurines and presently has 40 of them. Why? Because these turtles hold a great meaning for her and her life. Namely, as she says, “If a turtle wants to move, it has to take risks. It has to stick it’s neck out. It could get hurt. But if it does not stick it’s neck out, it doesn’t move.”

She goes on to say that the turtle is like herself, saying that she too sticks her neck out and takes risks; risks that put her on top in the broadcasting world. She is also probably the most famous sex therapist in the country. Not bad for a lady that is an orphan survivor of the holocaust.

The last couple weeks I’ve talked a lot about fears that we all have and ways to face those fears and overcome some of them. We all need to heed the advice captured in the title of Susan Jeffers’ book Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway. That title can and should apply to so many parts of our lives. It could be investing some of our money into a run-down property that we can see could be worth so much more when fixed up. Or perhaps it’s changing jobs or our profession and getting into something totally new, knowing it could be a much better position or career, one that fits our talents and our passion in life. Or maybe you want to write a book or start giving public speeches but your great fears kick in and stop you in your tracks.

If so, you are just like that turtle that doesn’t stick it’s neck out and therefore doesn’t move. In the case of the turtle, that lack of movement could even be a death sentence and for us humans who want to lead a wonderful and more fulfilling life it probably will kill that kind life or at least do some major damage.

So, I think all of us need to remember and take to heart that advice from Dr. Ruth’s turtle. We should stick our neck out when we want to move ahead and take some risks. Even when we feel the fear, let’s do it anyway!

Risk is Not for Herds

June 10, 2016 by  
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Last week I talked about risk taking and how the willingness to take risk when it comes to investing is critical.  Those people who really want to attain Financial Freedom or FF need to look at themselves to determine their tolerance for risk.

As a real estate investor working towards achieving FF, it’s important to understand your own temperament, and your ability to assume that element of risk.  It’s important to know your limitations and not torment yourself with sleepless nights by taking unnecessary risks in trying to keep up with others whose capacity to assume risk might be much greater than yours.  This decision may slow you down on the road to FF, but what is FF without some enjoyment, comfort and happiness along the way?

Everyone has a level and a threshold for tolerance and excessive and unnecessary risk will only create anxiety and tension and may well shorten your life.  So take a hard look at yourself and measure how much risk are you willing to take that doesn’t make you worry you to the point of causing pain, anxiety and suffering in your life.

But keeping in mind our objective, achieving FF, it is important to remember that the greater the potential risk the greater the inherent reward will be. It is also almost impossible to avoid every risk at any one time in selecting an investment. In order to achieve and maintain high rates of return, which are critical for achieving total FF, one must be prepared both mentally and emotionally to incur a higher than average risk. So look hard at yourself and measure how much risk you can handle.

Remember that “eagles don’t fly together in flocks.”  So if you are going to make it big you can’t just go along with the flock or the herd.  If you earnestly desire to achieve FF today, you must learn to assemble all the facts, calculate the risks, be decisive, and then act accordingly.  Statistics and history prove that the majority of people fail to ever become FF because they do not have a specific plan. They are content and willing to wait patiently throughout their lifetime for Social Security or they are looking for that one super great investment or the lucky lottery number to suddenly become super rich.  Don’t follow those kinds of people. Work on your plan that will take you to total FF over a reasonable period of time and you will reach the level of Financial Freedom that you set as your goal.

Avoiding Your Own Loss Aversion

June 3, 2016 by  
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Statistics indicate that the majority of people are security conscious. This fact has been verified in a number of studies which concluded that many people people’s fear of failure is twice as great as their desire to succeed. Some of these studies also noted that in general, there will be up to 5 times as many people choosing a stable situation than people choosing an option with recognized risk. In order to achieve FF (Financial Freedom) you cannot be afraid to fail or take a risk.

Our tendency to avoid risk is known as loss aversion. It means a person believes that if they lose something, say $50, their level of unhappiness with that loss will be significantly greater than the potential increase in happiness if they gain $50.  Its apparent in our everyday lives. People will order the same thing off the menu every time simply because they are afraid they might not like what they order if they try something new, even when there is a good chance they could find a new favorite. Similarly, people put their money in low interest bearing savings accounts rather than put any of it some kind of investment account that will most likely make them significantly more in interest, primarily because there is some chance of loss. So it sits in the banks making next to nothing.

The problem may come down to a belief that one has no control over the outcome of their circumstances, be it their food or their investments. A class of Harvard graduates was asked what they believed were the necessary ingredients to become financially successful.  Their conclusion was summed up in two words, “Greed, and Luck.” I couldn’t disagree more.

If you consider the statistics I mentioned, you might very well conclude that only one out of five people will ever have FF. But that is just a statistic and has no bearing on what YOU will achieve. You can decide to take the risk and be that much closer to FF. Next week I will talk more about risk taking and what you as an investor need to understand about yourself.

The Risk Hurdle

May 27, 2016 by  
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Financial independence or Financial Freedom (let’s call it ‘FF’ for short) carries many connotations. Ask ten people what these terms mean to them and you will probably get ten different answers.  Many people today have dreams of becoming financially independent, however only a small percentage of the population actually achieves this envied position in life.

FF does not necessarily mean being rich or having a million-dollar bank account.  It simply means having enough money to do what you want to do, when you want to do it. It means you are free from money worries, so you can pursue the things that interest you most in life.  Having FF doesn’t necessarily mean retiring and giving up all your ambitions and goals in life to just grow old.  Actually, quite the opposite is true. It allows you the freedom to put more time and effort into your work or hobbies than ever before, but from a new perspective–that of personal fulfillment and enjoyment from doing work because you want to and not because you have to.  This is true Financial Freedom!

A rather fatalistic poet once wrote, “Life to many is but a constant struggle for a mere existence, with the assurance of losing it at the last.” This is a sobering thought when you consider the United States to be probably the wealthiest country and one of the most productive in the world.

FF does not come easy. Achieving it does require some sacrifices and an element of risk.  It’s human nature to avoid taking risks and who likes to make sacrifices? After all it’s easier to spend your earnings or maybe put some money away in a safe and insured account where your hard earned money is guaranteed a fixed, albeit a very low but stable return. This then, is the great paradox in achieving FF in today’s world.

It is virtually impossible to avoid all risks at one given time, because no matter what course is taken with investment dollars, there will always be a certain degree of risk involved. The real estate investor has to be prepared to take calculated risks and be willing to enter into the unknown, if they truly want to achieve FF.

To state the problem without at least suggesting an answer is unfair. Next week we’ll talk a bit more about this, about why we are averse to taking risks even when FF is our highest desire. Understanding why can be key to recognizing where your hesitation comes from and gives you a chance to conquer it!

Small Risks Take on Big Fears

January 24, 2014 by  
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Fear. It’s something we all deal with on some level. Some fears are good for you and can save your life such as the fear of falling off a cliff so that we keep a safe distance from the edge or the fear that pushes us to panic a bit, to hide, run or climb a tree depending on what dangerous animal or person we suddenly run into.

But there are those illogical fears that really don’t help or protect us; in fact many fears keep us from enjoying a much more rewarding life. Probably the biggest fear that holds us back is the fear of trying something totally new. It could be anything from giving a speech to a large group of people, playing a brand new sport or traveling to a faraway foreign country for the first time.

Why do we have such life constraining fears and what can we do about it?

I think the “why” is because we think we may fail and/or make a fool of ourselves or, in the case of flying to a foreign country, we fear all the unknowns, like whether the people are mean and dangerous or whether we might get lost or if the plane may crash. (By the way, the fear of flying is one of the biggest yet more illogical fears people have. I read sometime ago that if you were to fly on a commercial jet every single day, statistically you would fly for 29,000 years before you got on a plane that crashed.)

So what does a person do to overcome the fear of doing or trying something new? Susan Jeffers suggests in her book Feel the Fear and Beyond that you try “expanding your comfort zone”. And if you set about doing what she suggests on a regular basis you will gain a ton of confidence and greatly reduce your fears.

She says “one way to easily expand your comfort zone is to take a little risk each day.” When she’s talking about taking risks she’s not talking about physical risks but rather the risk of facing your fears and trying something new. The first step, as she advises, is to come up with thirty risks you could do in a month and write them down. Then each night, pick one to take on the following day and add it to your schedule by placing it on your calendar or daily planner just as you would a doctor’s appointment. As you do this, you will begin to slowly expand the size of your comfort zone and your world and then will be much more likely to face and conquer much larger fears.

So why don’t you sit down right now and see if you can list thirty risks or fears that you want to overcome in the next month? Like I advise with anything, break it down into small manageable steps and you will be able to take on anything.